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Airbus expects more orders from China, India
Updated: 2006-02-06 20:52

Booming Asian economies led by China and India are expected to fuel demand for the world's largest commercial aircraft, the A380, an Airbus official said Monday.

Airbus expects more orders from China, India
The world's biggest passenger jet, an Airbus A380 superjumbo taxis past Changi International Airport's control tower in Singapore, in November 2005. An Airbus official said booming Asian economies led by China and India are expected to fuel demand for the A380. [AFP]

"From the start of the (A380) programme, the fastest growth rates for air traffic in terms of passenger and in freight traffic are seen in Asia," Anthony Phillips, Singapore-based Airbus regional communications representative said.

Phillips, in Kuala Lumpur to brief on the company's regional outlook for 2006, said Airbus expects especially significant growth in in China and India.

"The expectation is two new customers every year (for the A380) ... It would not be unreasonable to say that at least one new customer could come from the Asia-Pacific region, in particular from high growth markets like China or India," he told AFP.

Seven of the 16 current customers for the A380 are in the region -- China's Southern Airlines, India's Kingfisher, Korean Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways which together account for some 49 of the 159 aircraft now on order.

Philips said fuel efficiency savings of up to 20 percent made the A380 an alternative to Boeing's flagship 747 jet.

"Airlines globally are under enormous pressure to control their costs. For an airline that today is operating a fleet of Boeing 747s, by introducing the A380, it will lower their operating cost by up to 20 percent," he said.

Phillips said Airbus was confident of penetrating the Japanese market, a traditional bastion for Boeing, with the A380 super-jumbo jet.

"It has been a traditionally challenging market. There is clearly a strong industrial link between the US and Japan," he said, noting that Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways count the largest fleets of 747s in the world.

"Quite clearly, with that in mind, Airbus hopes that they will become operators of A380s in due course," he said.

Phillips said by 2008, there would be 8-10 carriers flying into Japan using the A380s and this would put competitive pressure on the local companies.

"Obviously, they will face a lot of head-on competition. It is not unreasonable to expect that eventually Japan Airlines and ANA being large operators of 747 aircraft to become customers of the A380," he said.

The first A380 will be delivered in November to Singapore Airlines (SIA), which has ordered 10 A380s with another 15 on option for 8.6 billion dollars.

Phillips said the test programmes for the A380s was going very well. "There are no major concerns," he said.

The new giant of the skies was due for delivery to SIA in early 2006 but this was steadily put back due to producton problems.

Phillips said Airbus expects another good year in sales this year.

"Airbus enjoyed a good 2005. Forty-five percent global orders came from the Asia-Pacific region with China and India contributing very significantly.

"For 2006, market conditions are still very bright and positive. Airbus is looking for another good year in Asia," he said.

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